DIRECTOR: Steve Miner
Horror Author and Vietnam Veteran Roger Cobb is at a point in his life where nothing is actually going right for him. His son has mysteriously disappeared without a trace, his marriage to his gorgeous wife has ended in divorce, and his aunt has committed suicide. After his recent run of bad luck, he decides to move straight into his aunties house and work on his Vietnam War novel. Little does he imagine that delving back into the horrors that he saw during his time in Vietnam may take a toll on his sanity.
House has the honour of being one of the first horror movies I ever witnessed. I can still remember being no older than six years of age and having my dad show it to me on TV late one night. Why my dad ever allowed this to happen, I'll never understand. I remember being absolutely terrified of the wall mounted swordfish coming alive only to be shotgun blasted as it screams in agony. The first reveal of his beautiful ex-wife turning into a bloated demonic hag with rotting purple flesh. It's these memories that horrified me as a child but ones that stayed burnt into my subconscious when I think about my first memories of horror.
Now that I've rewatched House as a full-fledged adult some twenty years later. I can now enjoy the proceedings without almost defecating in my undies. While revisiting this eighties cult classic it has been revealed to me as a much broader film than the one I tried to understand as a child. While some people might pass House off as a simple haunted house film where things go bump in the night. I found the film to have a deeper underlining message to all the craziness that ends up taking place.
Where House becomes something more than just your run of the mill Haunted House story is the flashback scenes to Roger's time in the Vietnam War. As he begins writing his novel, the film slowly reveals what took place during his time in Vietnam. It's also revealed to the audience that Roger makes a decision that ultimately gets one of his fellow soldiers tortured and killed by the other side. This is the moment where it all ties together, and we understand that Roger may be suffering from survivor's guilt. He needs to overcome his demons. Themes of coming back from war and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder are what gives House more weight with its story.
It needs to be stated that while House does have a deeper underlining message, the film is also one hell of a fun ride. The film doesn't take long to unleash all its ghouls and monsters that run rampant in Roger's new dwellings. The best of which is the fantastic reveal of Rogers gorgeous ex-wife who bends down to pick up a bullet off the floor only to suddenly appear as a horrifying and gooey looking hag who comes after our protagonist. Any time the movie falls back into monster territory is where House is at its most fun. The creature design is what lends House it's B-Movie quality. An eighties' cult classic that is bound to find it's way onto many guilty pleasure lists.
The creature effects and makeup almost remind me of Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead. I have a feeling that when Steve Miner was in pre-production on House, he was looking at Evil Dead for inspiration. The demonic hag that's featured in House is very similar in look and feel of the deadites from Evil Dead. Both movies have an almost comedic quality with their monster mayhem with Evil Dead going that little bit further with its bloodletting and gore.
The acting in House is solid for the most part. William Katt who plays Roger Cobb is the focus for much of the movies running time, and he delivers it in spades. He is no stranger to the horror genre with roles in classics like Carrie, so it works in his favour when he needs to go off the deep end or give the film some levity. George Wendt who plays the nosy neighbour and new best friend to Roger also makes a solid effort and adds a bit of comic relief during the movies much darker moments. The acting here is above average for a film of this type.
Director Steve Miner is an old pro when it comes to the horror genre I actually believe he is pretty underrated. He's directed two of the eleven Friday The 13th movies. He gave us underrated movies such as Lake Placid and Warlock. His last movie is sadly the Day Of The Dead (Remake) which was an abomination. For me, House is still his best movie to date. The direction isn't overly stylized, and the film is light on visual effects. This means that the cinematography is the focus and it's a not a bad looking film, for the most part. House is a good looking eighties flick.
My biggest gripe with House also feels like me nitpicking. The moments involving the subplot with the missing son are the films biggest "double take" moment. A film that contains demons and monsters hiding in a bathroom mirror should have some room to allow for suspension of disbelief. When it comes to the son suddenly being saved at the end of the movie with no questions asked by a single person or how the son has been found. It's one of those subplots that make you question the film as it feels like it may have jumped the shark. Being a fun supernatural horror, though, I can look the other way with this movie.
DEATH TOLL: 2
BLOOD AND GORE:
- A shotgun blast to a woman's stomach.
- A demonic hag has her head lopped off with garden shears.
- A demon is stabbed in the stomach with an assortment of garden instruments.
- Suicide by hanging.
- A zombie soldier is blown up.
- A swordfish gets a shotgun blast to the head.
Watching House as a kid, I found the movie absolutely terrifying. As an adult, the film has an over the top and camp quality to it all. House is a lot of fun but deep down the movie does touch on some serious subject matter and for that, it's more than just the typical, run-of-the-mill, haunted house movie. The movie hasn't lost any of its charm twenty years on, and because of that, it rightfully deserves that cult classic status. I'd highly recommend this to anyone who loves a good eighties' monster movie.